We were ultimately disappointed with the Izgrev, but we didn't have kids, and went at the beginning of June - it must have made a lot of difference.
The weather was much cooler, less sunny - didn't even get a hint of colour and some of the evenings were quite cold.
I'd take into account the views of the July 06 reviewer, but I'd also add the following main points.
Totally inadequate provision of sunbeds at the hotel. It was like going back in time 30 years, the few sunbeds were taken by German tourists at the crack of dawn who ignored "do not reserve sunbeds with towels" signs (this was never enforced). Same faces in the same beds everyday. We managed to get poolside beds on one day only. There are plenty of parasols on the beach - far too many in fact - but adding the cost of beds, mattresses and parasols the cost is £8 ish per day per couple. If I'd paid the full whack for this holiday - £450 for a week - I'd certainly not be prepared to stump up this extra for what should be included!
One trick you could try is to wait for one the upper sundecks to open at 10am, there were usually beds available there if you were quick, and a bar open all day for drinks. Also got a great view along the sea front and out to sea from here - see picture.
The activity team work very hard to provide a range of activities but don't seem to get the message if you just want to chill out and laze in the sun or read, they tried almost too hard and it reminded me of camp staff in Hi-De-Hi!
Oh yes, and although the rooms were indeed spacious and air conditioned, I have to say the mattresses were the worst of any hotel I have ever stayed in anywhere in the world. A bag of potatoes would have given me a more comfortable night's sleep. Not that it helped that a family of a dozen feral children were running up and down the corridors at all hours banging on all the doors and laughing hysterically - not what I want or expect in a 4 star hotel.
Make sure you take plenty of holiday money. I've never had to do this before whether in the Americas, Caribbean or Europe. The only place you can use credit or debit cards is the few cash machines on the promenade. I got caught a little short of cash in the beach bar, the tab wouldn't go on the room so I had a 1 hour round trip up the road to get cash out (from a working machine) to pay for my lunch! The Izgrev is a 4 star chain hotel and you cannot settle your bill or tab by credit card or debit card - cash only. BE WARNED! Lots of people were getting caught out by this. Reception staff referred you to the Bureau de Change in the hotel which displayed all the card logos, but having tried 5 cards between us (and the guy behind us tried 4 cards) none of them were accepted by the machine. In any case the commission for getting currency by credit card is 9% so even if you could pay you should avoid if possible. Best to use a debit card in a cash machine - which all seem to be at the opposite end of the resort.
I was disappointed by Golden Sands itself - it was like a dreadful Med holiday from the 1980s. Lots of bars and restaurants hassling you to go inside when all you wanted was a quiet walk up the main "strip" by the beach. Within 10 minutes of arriving on our first night we were accosted by a couple of prostitutes plying their business (who had short memories and tried again when we turned round and went back!) If it wasn't that, there were girls leafleting for the local strip bar. Why assume that that's what two blokes want when they go on holiday? And the food and drink wasn't particularly cheap either!
If you're a non-smoker you should think twice too, everywhere people are smoking and puffing away, you can't eat or drink without smelling stale smoke, and you get in from a night out in any venue and your clothes stinks - not nice.
On the plus side, the surf is steady on the beach as it's not really tidal, so if you can see it from your hotel past all the parasols it's a great view and the sound of the surf makes a sea view room worth paying extra for. Walking up the beach in the surf was a highlight of the holiday but watch for the odd beached jellyfish. And the local brandy is to die for - I'd recommend grabbing a bottle from one of the supermarkets as they don't sell it at the airport and it's very reasonable.
And a couple of brownie points for the Izgrev bar staff - nearly all were attentive and friendly, and would give most British bar staff a run for their money. I'd recommend trying a night in the hotel's basement nightclub and working your way down the cocktail list! Also, the rooms were cleaned daily to a superb standard that I couldn't fault. Left a generous tip for the maids when we left!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- SENTIDO Golden Star Family / Izgrev / hotel is a part of SENTIDO GOLDEN STAR /Obzor Beach & Izgrev/ hotel complex situated very close to the sea shore, within the Golden sands resort, 18 km from the city of Varna and 28 km from Varna airport. The hotel is a 7-floor modern building. It offers a highly professional staff and outstanding accommodations on All inclusive basis. Part of the rooms are completely renovated in 2013. All guests are welcome from May till the end of October in 192 cozy single, double and family rooms with sea and park view. The number of double rooms includes family rooms with connecting door. All rooms have balconies. The hotel offers 9 luxury apartments. There are a large foyer and a lobby-bar in the hotel ground floor, decorated in pastel colors. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- SENTIDO Golden Star Family Bulgaria/Golden Sands